Human activities are changing the cycles of carbon and nutrients in freshwater systems and we have to cope with the consequences of hydrological alteration and pollution.
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Many Rivers carry high loads of nitrogen due to leaching of agricultural fertilizers. Wetlands can help mitigating nitrogen eutrophication of coastal waters.
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Anoxic chlorophyll maximum enhances local organic matter remineralization and nitrogen loss in Lake Tanganyika
In marine and freshwater oxygen-deficient zones, the remineralization of sinking organic matter from the photic zone is central to driving nitrogen loss. Deep blooms of photosynthetic bacteria, which form the suboxic/anoxic chlorophyll maximum (ACM), widespread in aquatic ecosystems, may also contribute to the local input of organic matter. Yet, the influence of the ACM on nitrogen and carbon cycling remains poorly understood. Using a suite of stable isotope tracer experiments, we examined the transformation of nitrogen and carbon under an ACM (comprising of Chlorobiaceae and Synechococcales) and a non-ACM scenario in the anoxic zone of Lake Tanganyika. We find that the ACM hosts a tight coupling of photo/litho-autotrophic and heterotrophic processes. In particular, the ACM was a hotspot of organic matter remineralization that controlled an important supply of ammonium driving a nitrification-anammox coupling, and thereby played a key role in regulating nitrogen loss in the oxygen-deficient zone.
Callbeck, C. M.; Ehrenfels, B.; Baumann, K. B. L.; Wehrli, B.; Schubert, C. J. (2021) Anoxic chlorophyll maximum enhances local organic matter remineralization and nitrogen loss in Lake Tanganyika, Nature Communications, 12, 830 (11 pp.), doi:10.1038/s41467-021-21115-5, Institutional Repository
Living with floating vegetation invasions
Invasions of water bodies by floating vegetation, including water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), are a huge global problem for fisheries, hydropower generation, and transportation. We analyzed floating plant coverage on 20 reservoirs across the world’s tropics and subtropics, using > 30 year time-series of LANDSAT remote-sensing imagery. Despite decades of costly weed control, floating invasion severity is increasing. Floating plant coverage correlates with expanding urban land cover in catchments, implicating urban nutrient sources as plausible drivers. Floating vegetation invasions have undeniable societal costs, but also provide benefits. Water hyacinths efficiently absorb nutrients from eutrophic waters, mitigating nutrient pollution problems. When washed up on shores, plants may become compost, increasing soil fertility. The biomass is increasingly used as a renewable biofuel. We propose a more nuanced perspective on these invasions moving away from futile eradication attempts towards an ecosystem management strategy that minimizes negative impacts while integrating potential social and environmental benefits.
Lake mixing regime selects apparent methane oxidation kinetics of the methanotroph assemblage
In lakes, large amounts of methane are produced in anoxic sediments. Methane-oxidizing bacteria effectively convert this potent greenhouse gas into biomass and carbon dioxide. These bacteria are present throughout the water column, where methane concentrations can range from nanomolar to millimolar. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that methanotroph assemblages in a seasonally stratified freshwater lake are adapted to the contrasting methane concentrations in the epi- and hypolimnion. We further hypothesized that lake overturn would change the apparent methane oxidation kinetics as more methane becomes available in the epilimnion. In addition to the change in the methane oxidation kinetics, we investigated changes in the transcription of genes encoding methane monooxygenase, the enzyme responsible for the first step of methane oxidation, with metatranscriptomics. Using laboratory incubations of the natural microbial communities, we show that the half-saturation constant (Km) for methane - the methane concentration at which half the maximum methane oxidation rate is reached - was 20 times higher in the hypolimnion than in the epilimnion during stable stratification. During lake overturn, however, the kinetic constants in the epi- and hypolimnion converged along with a change in the transcriptionally active methanotroph assemblage. Conventional particulate methane monooxygenase appeared to be responsible for methane oxidation under different methane concentrations. Our results suggest that methane availability is one important factor for creating niches for methanotroph assemblages with well-adapted methane oxidation kinetics. This rapid selection and succession of adapted lacustrine methanotroph assemblages allowed the previously reported high removal efficiency of methane transported to the epilimnion to be maintained – even under rapidly changing conditions during lake overturn. Consequently, only a small fraction of methane stored in the anoxic hypolimnion is emitted to the atmosphere.
Aerobic methane oxidation under copper scarcity in a stratified lake
Aerobic methane-oxidizing bacteria (MOB) substantially reduce methane fluxes from freshwater sediments to the atmosphere. Their metalloenzyme methane monooxygenase (MMO) catalyses the first oxidation step converting methane to methanol. Its most prevalent form is the copper-dependent particulate pMMO, however, some MOB are also able to express the iron-containing, soluble sMMO under conditions of copper scarcity. So far, the link between copper availability in different forms and biological methane consumption in freshwater systems is poorly understood. Here, we present high-resolution profiles of MOB abundance and pMMO and sMMO functional genes in relation to copper, methane and oxygen profiles across the oxic-anoxic boundary of a stratified lake. We show that even at low nanomolar copper concentrations, MOB species containing the gene for pMMO expression are present at high abundance. The findings highlight the importance of copper as a micronutrient for MOB species and the potential usage of copper acquisition strategies, even under conditions of abundant iron, and shed light on the spatial distribution of these microorganisms.
Fast potentiometric CO2 sensor for high-resolution in situ measurements in fresh water systems
We present a new potentiometric sensor principle and a calibration protocol for in situ profiling of dissolved CO2 with high temporal and spatial resolution in fresh water lakes. The sensor system is based on the measurement of EMF between two solid-contact ion selective electrodes (SC-ISEs), a hydrogen ion selective and a carbonate selective sensor. Since it relies on SC-ISEs, it is insensitive to changes in pressure, thus suitable for in situ studies. Also, as it offers a response time (t95%) of <10 s, it allows for profiling applications at high spatial resolution. The proposed optimum in situ protocol accounts for the continuous drift and change in offset that remains a challenge during profiling in natural waters. The fast response resolves features that are usually missed by standard methods like the classical Severinghaus CO2 probe. In addition, the insensitivity of the presented setup to dissolved sulfide allows also for measurements in anoxic zones of eutrophic systems. Highly resolved CO2 concentration profiles obtained by the novel and robust SC-ISE setup along with the developed optimum in situ protocol allow investigating hotspots of biogeochemical processes, such as mineralization and primary production in the water column and help improving estimates for CO2 turnover in freshwater systems.
Athavale, R.; Pankratova, N.; Dinkel, C.; Bakker, E.; Wehrli, B.; Brand, A. (2018) Fast potentiometric CO2 sensor for high-resolution in situ measurements in fresh water systems, Environmental Science and Technology, 52(19), 11259-11266, doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b02969, Institutional Repository